Spinning Chiengora (Dog Hair)

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , Chiengora , Spinning , Techniques 
[8] Comments 

(Chiengora 1 of 4)
First, you need the right kind of dog.  This is Lacy, my “mostly border collie”.  She is a double coated dog.  That is, in addition to her outer coat, she has a soft, wooley undercoat.  The dog books say Border Collies shed twice a year, they’re right, day and night.  

The name “chiengora” comes from combining “chien”, French for dog, with “gora” as in angora, due to the “halo” the fiber produces.

HARVESTING CHIENGORA (no animal is harmed in the process).  It’s actually very healthy for the coat to remove the dead, loose undercoat from the dog, and cooler.  To keep Lacy’s coat healthy I use the Ikaria line of shampoos and conditioners from PetEdge http://www.petedge.com/home.jsp .  The rake photographed below is also available through PetEdge.  I’ve tried lots of tools but the Oster rake below seems to be the most effective to me.

I gently grasp her loose skin and rake the direction the hair grows.  Great gobs of dead hair are harvested each time.

I blend the dog hair with wool.  (I used Louet corriedale dyed in a color close to her natural coat color.)  While a purist may shutter at the notion of blending the hair I do so for two reasons.  First, the dog hair is very short stapled.  That is, it is short in length.  When spun alone, it requires a tight twist to hold in the short hairs.  I find this makes the yarn hard and less suitable for the scarves and shawls I like to knit.  Second, the dog hair when spun and knit has a lovely “halo”, fuzz.  When the spun yarn is fulled to set the twist, the wool and dog hair slightly felt and the wool holds the short stapled dog hair into the yarn.  I weigh out equal weights of dog hair and wool before blending.  I use a drum carder to blend the fiber.  One of the tricks of the drum carder, is not to try to process too much fiber at one time.  I layer first the longer wool, then a layer of dog hair, then a layer of wool.  I pull the batt off the carder, fold it in half and send it through the carder again.  In total, I send it through the carder 3 or 4 times.  I roll the finished batt and store it in a cardboard box careful not to flatten it.



The next part of the process is spin singles from the fiber.  You’ll see the singles emerging on my Matchless spinning wheel.  I then ply two singles together for strength and yarn size consistentecy. 




Visit http://Seabreezespinners.com/ again for projects made from the Chiengora.


Tropical Twister & Lacy


8 Responses to “Spinning Chiengora (Dog Hair)”

  1. claude says, August 28th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Very beautiful dog and yarn !…
    Just a small correction : in french dog is “chien” and not “chein”, so we call it “chiengora” .
    Claude in France

  2. Cheap Like Me says, August 28th, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Interesting post! I have the wrong kind of dog (schnauzer). FYI, I’m also a professional editor, and for search engine purposes, you might want to switch your i’s and e’s — it’s chien (chiengora) in French. Thanks for the great post.

  3. Tropical Twister says, August 28th, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Mea culpa, am I embarrassed, three years of college French and I misspell “dog”. What’s worse, my maiden name is of French derivation and is spelled with an “ie”. Glad I’ve readers out there who are on the ball. Tropical Twister

  4. claude says, August 29th, 2008 at 4:07 am

    You’ve not to be embarrassed … I’m also making mispell in english !…
    I like very much your works and… I like dogs !

  5. patricia lowe says, January 1st, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Your Lacy is the spitting image of my Lexie (who came from a rescue group). I’ve always suspected her of being Border Collie (some people tell me she’s Aust. Shepherd). They even lay down the same, with legs stretched out behind. My girl is really people-shy, but she’s improved over the two years I’ve had her. I haven’t been spinning her hair yet, but I’m saving it in a plastic bag.
    I’ve been spinning some Great Pyre hair, and it’s turning out nice. I don’t have a wheel yet (using a support spindle), but i’ve been thinking about getting one to use for the Pyre hair as a fundraiser for the Pyre rescue group in my town (that’s where I’ve been getting my fibre). I wasn’t even sure you could use a wheel since the fibre drifts apart so easily. It’s nice to know it can be done on a wheel. Thanks for the info. And Love to Lacy!! Really, she is IDENTICLE to my Lexie!

  6. Tropical Twister says, January 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    UPDATE … my “mostly” border collie rescue … well, I had an opportunity to have her DNA analyzed … thought she might be mixed with Golden Retriever (due to her great disposition) or Black Lab (due to her sweet face and round muzzle) … results are in … no border collie and no retriever of any kind. They traced back three generations and discovered only two breeds which were equally represented: Australian Shepard (no great surprise) and Cocker Spaniel (huh …. ??? ) Love to see Lexie’s pic.

  7. Lallie Clarke says, May 4th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Can you spin the dog hair I have collected from my 2 white double coated Japanese Spitz. They are Arctic dogs, and so their skin is dry and outer coat is self-cleaning and doesn’t smell. Can you also knit or crochet a waistcoat for me out of the yarn. I live in Jersey in the Channel Islands.

  8. Weaving With Your Dog - Beweave It - Weaving Today says, August 16th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    […] you think your dog’s fur would make an excellent candidate, you can spin it yourself. If you don't spin, but you still want to turn Fluffy's fur into a wonderfully warm shawl, […]

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